Götterdämmerung – The Twilight of the Gods
New York Metropolitan Opera
– Simulcast Saturday 11th February 2012 -
I'd forgotten just how spectacular this opera is musically!
I don't simply mean the well known sections, like Siegfried's
Funeral March, but the way that Wagner weaves his leitmotifs
together to tell the story at a different level from the words
being sung; or sometimes to comment on the action, by revealing
in the music, the forces at work behind the drama. I will never
again say that the first scene with the Norns is boring! This
time, listening with a more educated ear, Wagner's genius and
hard work just blew me away!
- Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde -
To pop-up a YouTube video - click the image above
In this production the whole cast was of the highest quality.
I can criticise none of them for their singing or their musicality.
In fact I'm totally in awe of the principals who are capable
of sustaining their concentration and physical resources over
such a long period of time.
Deborah Voigt & Waltraud Meier
Jay Hunter Morris
Hans König & Wendy Harmer
To read a cast members
review - click an image
The Metropolitan Opera orchestra was very ably directed by Fabio
Luisi. Overall it was an excellent performance and I have just
a couple of minor quibbles.
He stated in the interval that he was trying to brush away
the accumulated heavy Germanic tradition of Wagner performances.
Occasionally this led him into taking a few tempi rather fast,
sometimes pushing the singers to accelerate their phrasing.
At the end the orchestra was, understandably, tired resulting
in a few untidy brass chords but it was a long live performance!.
So that leaves the production by Robert Lepage. Its difficult
to describe in words but instead of conventional scenery and
flats they used a series of huge triangular shaped segments,
pivoting around a horizontal axis and extending right across
the stage. To paint these segments with colour and movement
they used video projection. This is a flexible system and can
be very effective, for example, by setting some of the segments
vertically one can create the pillars of the Gibichungs
hall. Or by setting all the segments at a shallow angle, and
then projecting water flowing around rocks, one could create
the Rhine for the Rhine Maidens, (who, by the way, were all
excellent and whose voices blended very well).
Once you have decided to take this route, which unsurprisingly
has had its mechanical problems, youre more or less forced
to use it throughout. So then the quality of the video, or the
graphics, becomes supremely important. This was mixed. I got
tired of the wood grain effect associated with the Gibichungs
hall, and at times I couldnt see the relevance of moving
some of the segments but not others.
I thought that the ending of the whole opera, when Valhalla
burns, was very weak. The flames were not convincing, and the
collapsing of a few plaster gods into dust at an upper level
was a very poorly conceived idea, a real damp squib.
I also hated Grane, Brünnhilde's mechanical metal horse,
which was ponderous and unnecessary. It should be quickly put
out to grass! Why not have it on video in the distance? That
way it could also fly instead of slowly rolling along!
There should also have been much more use of traditional stage
lighting as a backdrop to the projected images.
We are all so used to fantastic CGI effects that there is much
more scope for creativity using projection than was demonstrated
in this production. But rather than try to compete with movies,
I think that for future productions using this system they ought
to employ a contemporary artist to design the projected graphics
and videos, looking for a more abstract effect. Perhaps they
should use someone like David Hockney, who did such a brilliant
job for the Magic Flute years ago.
But if youre lucky enough to have booked tickets to see
the whole Ring cycle in the spring dont let these criticisms
put you off. Based on this simulcast I can assure you that youll
enjoy it! The music and images are still going round in my head